This is a frequently asked question by people thinking of lifting their trucks, and today I’m going to answer it in detail.
While some prefer the aggressive, taller look and massive ground clearance, some worry about how the truck will ride after being lifted. Because lifting a truck changes so many things in a truck, it’s hard to keep track of all of them.
The newer components, along with the changed geometry, affect every single aspect of a truck, from the weight, balance, and stability to performance, fuel economy, and so many other things.
So, do lifted trucks ride rough?
Yes, if the lifting job was not done properly. On the other hand, a properly lifted truck rides smoother than its factory counterpart.
This may come as a surprise to you, but let me elaborate. Let’s go over how lifting a truck changes it and how those changes affect the driving feel and stability of the truck.
Ways to Improve Your Lifted Truck Ride Quality
Things to Consider Before Lifting a Truck
5 Things you NEED to think about BEFORE you lift your truck
Trucks are made to carry weight and handle diverse terrain. That already makes them less smooth compared to cars, which are primarily made to handle road surfaces.
But smooth-riding trucks are not non-existent. Many of the newer generation trucks come equipped with air suspensions as more and more people are leaning toward trucks as their daily drivers for commuting.
So, if you’re thinking of lifting your truck, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “What do I need the lift for?”
A suspension lift kit increases the gap between the axle and the upper suspension mount. This not only improves ground clearance but also increases suspension travel.
This translates into better off-roading performance. So, if you’re an avid off-road enthusiast, go for a 3-4 inch lift kit with your eyes closed. The performance and ride quality will improve when you’re off-roading.
If the purpose of lifting for you is just to avoid scraping the bottom of your bumper on protruding road surfaces or speed bumps, a simple leveling kit will do the job for you. This way, the way your truck behaves will remain unchanged.
Lifting a truck reduces its performance and driving feel on asphalt. In this case, the only thing to gain by lifting is the rugged look of bigger tires and the taller profile.
So, if you use your truck as a daily driver that you use to go around town or on the highway, the tradeoff won’t be worth it at all. So, reconsider your decision to lift that truck.
How Lifting Affects the Riding Experience of a Truck
Before we jump to any conclusions, let’s look at the way lifting affects the riding experience, both positively and negatively.
Suspension lift kits that lift trucks more than 2 inches are designed with stiffer springs that handle uneven road surfaces better. They don’t tend to be too jumpy, which translates into a better off-roading experience.
Also, manufacturers keep in mind that the truck still has to be able to carry loads and do other demanding and heavy-duty stuff like towing. That’s why the springs are designed to be stiffer to prevent sagging under heavy loads.
But this affects the stability of the truck. The ride will be really shaky when unloaded. And when on motorways, you’ll definitely feel every little bump and nudge.
Lifting raises the center of gravity of a truck. The center of mass also gets raised. This means its maneuverability will be sloppier.
You’re going to have to slow down a lot more around corners, and the acceleration and braking processes will be sloppier.
Also, when you need to steer quickly and suddenly to avoid any accidents on the road, there will be a higher chance that the truck may topple over.
The higher position of the truck body after lifting will allow more air to pass through the bottom of the truck. That means there will be an increased amount of drag.
Also, lift kits are normally heavier than the factory components of a car. And most of the time, people install bigger tires and wheels after lifting. As a result, the total weight of the truck increases.
The reduced aerodynamics and increased weight will make the vehicle feel sluggish, and the engine will have to work harder to speed up.
You will also notice that your truck is burning more fuel than before and that the braking distance is higher than before.
When a truck is lifted, the angle of the upper control arm changes. Also, the break lines have to reach farther. The suspension angle also changes, and the force of the truck over bumps falls on the suspension at a different angle than before.
All these add up to a truck that is harder to steer and control.
Things to Keep in Mind to Prevent Your Lifted Truck from Riding Rough
Though lifting a truck can potentially lead to a rougher ride, that’s not always the case. In many cases, lifting can lead to a comparatively smoother ride.
So if you installed a lift kit and wondered, why is my truck riding so rough? You might not be doing things right. That’s why, if your truck rides rough after lifting, you should check for the things I’m about to mention.
Also, when installing a lift kit, keep an eye on these things so that your truck does not ride rough.
Check the Shocks
Installing lift kits reduces the effectiveness of the factory shocks as the travel distance of the shocks is increased. That’s why many lift kits come with newer, longer shock absorbers included in the package.
If you don’t replace the stock shocks, the taller coils or coilover springs will jump a lot more, making the ride that much rougher.
Pay close attention to the lift kit you intend to buy. See if they come with new shocks. If not, it is better to get a new pair of good shock absorbers.
If you have done that already and the ride is still rough, you should check if the shocks are working properly and if they are traveling all the way up and down.
You can install lighter shocks, which will make the ride smoother if off-roading is not your focus. You can also look for adjustable, double-rated shock absorbers. The firmness of this type of shock absorber can be adjusted according to the condition of the road.
Check the Tire Pressure
Too much pressure in the tires makes it harder for a truck’s suspension system to nullify jolts and shocks.
If your truck’s ride feels stiff, you should check if the tires are inflated too much. A truck can function properly with pressure as low as 32 PSI.
A deflated tire will have greater contact with the road surface and will be able to dampen jolts better.
Try the Air Suspension System
Air suspensions are significantly more stable than coil spring suspensions. They dampen shocks and vibrations better, along with other advantages. But do keep in mind that they are more costly to buy and maintain.
You can follow this link to find a detailed article I wrote on lifting a truck with air suspension.
Check for Loose Parts
Take a close look at the truck to see if there are any loose parts and if all the bolts are tightened properly.
Parts rattling around will not just affect the ride quality. They will also wear out faster and boost the chances of failure.
Check the Springs
Check the rear springs to see if they come with helper springs, which, in the case of many suspension lift kits, they do.
Also, if the front springs are stiffer than the previous ones. Both of these result in a stiffer ride.
You really don’t need stiffer springs up front if you don’t intend to install a heavy steel bumper or use snow plow attachments.
Some kits come with leaf spring spacers to add an inch or two of lift, but these usually ruin the flexibility of the leaf spring, resulting in a rougher ride.
Use Smaller Wheels and Bigger Tires
People tend to go for thinner tires around bigger wheels in most cases for a cooler look. But you should know that this leads to a rougher ride.
If you want bigger tires for higher ground clearance, consider getting thicker tires on smaller rims.
This way, the truck will enjoy higher torque, and you will be able to deflate the tires a bit in order to make the ride smoother.
Soften the Leaf Springs
How to make a leaf spring truck ride better? Here’s how! You can simply remove a leaf from your truck’s leaf spring. This will reduce its weight cap but smooth out the ride quite a bit.
You can double-stack rubber rings on the coil or coilover springs to dampen vibrations. You can also put vibration dampeners on the driveshaft as well.
Reducing vibrations will not only make your ride smoother, but it will also boost the longevity of every component installed on the truck.
Things I’ve Learned DAILY Driving a LIFTED Truck
Common Questions People Ask
Does lifting a truck affect ride quality?
Yes, lifting a truck can affect its ride quality.
If you install a lift kit on your truck, you might have a better experience when carrying loads, but you might experience a shakier ride when you aren’t.
You will have a hard time handling your truck when you’re turning corners or steering quickly because of the altered century of gravity.
Because of lifting your truck, there will be a higher aerodynamic drag. And because of this, your truck will use up more fuel than before.
So, yes, if you do install a lift kit on your truck, your ride quality might be compromised. But there are tricks to bypass these cons.
What makes a truck ride smoother?
Lifting your truck can make your truck ride smoother. But I just talked about how a lifted truck can decrease the ride quality.
So if you ask what makes a truck ride rough, the answer will still be a lift kit.
The thing is, yes, a lift kit can make your truck ride harsher, but there are a few things you can do to make it ride smoother than before lifting.
- Use new shocks
- Go for lighter shock absorbers
- Make sure the tire pressure is right
- Splurge on an air suspension system
- Make sure there aren’t any loose parts
- Check your truck’s springs
- Fit larger tires on smaller wheels
- Soften your leaf springs
- Reduce vibrations using rubber rings and vibration dampeners
To End the Discussion…
Lifting trucks drastically alters their dynamics. That’s why knowing the purpose and method of lifting beforehand can go a long way.
Installing a lift kit without considering how the truck will be affected can potentially make your truck ride rough.
That’s why I always recommend consulting a knowledgeable individual before making any decisions about modifying a vehicle.
By choosing the right lift kit and the right method and also taking help from a trained professional, you will be rewarded with a truck that does not just turn heads wherever you go but also rides smoothly.
internal link. ager article er. “can you lift a truck with air suspension”